The 45mm focal length had its heyday in the early days of 35mm photography. The popular Canonet QL17 and Minolta Hi-Matic 7S both had fast 45mm lenses, and the MD Rokkor 45mmF2 was the standard kit lens for the Minolta X series of SLR cameras for many years. However, this focal length fell out of fashion when cameras transitioned from manual to autofocus in the mid-1980s. As optical technologies advanced, 35mm became the ‘standard’ wide angle, while 50mm became the ‘normal’ focal length. I grew up with my father’s Minolta XG-1 and 45mmF2 lens, and I own the Minolta CLE with the 40mm M-Rokkor, so I love this middle focal length between wide and normal. When Fujifilm announced the new XF30mmF2.8 R LM WR Macro, I was intrigued, not because it was a new macro lens, but the unusual 45mm equivalent (in 35mm) focal length choice.
When I began my review of the new XF30mm lens, I never even thought of it as a macro lens. It would be my everyday walk-around lens, just like the Minolta lenses I’ve been shooting for decades. Having the ability to capture 1:1 macro images was just a bonus. Much like my Minolta A-Mount 50mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro lens, I would use Fujifilm’s new macro lens as a normal lens that just happens to be able to get close…really close! At 30mm in APS-C, to achieve 1:1 macro reproduction, the focus distance is 10cm to the sensor plane, which is just under 1” to the front lens element! Basically, you need to remove the lens hood to get that close and even then, at the right angle, you may still hit your subject before achieving minimum focus distance! If you really need a dedicated macro lens, I highly recommend the XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR instead.
Within Fujifilm’s X Mount ecosystem, there are plenty of prime lenses that would be considered great walk-around lenses. The XF18mmF2, XF18mmF1.4, XF23mmF2, XF23mmF1.4, XF27mmF2.8, XF33mmF1.4, XF35mmF2 and XF35mmF1.4. Before the XF30mm lens, I would have thought there was no need for another lens within this focal range, except maybe faster versions of existing focal lengths (e.g. XF27mmF2, XF33mmF1.2). By adding the macro feature, Fujifilm created a unique category. I can see food, lifestyle and product photographers loving the new XF30mmF2.8. Even though the working distance might be a challenge for those who need a real macro lens, being able to have an infinite focus range up to 1” to the front of this lens would be great for a 30mm prime lens.
The exterior design of the 30mm lens looks similar to the XF50mmF2 R WR. It has an awkward silhouette starting at 60mm at the widest point near the mount but slowly steps down to a longish length of 69.5mm with a ø43mm front filter thread. The beauty of this 1:1 macro lens is that all the focusing happens internally with no need for the lens barrel to extend outwards like many macro lenses as it approaches minimum focus distance. This 11 elements in 9 group optical design with 3 aspherical and 2 ED elements works great with a super quiet LM focus motor design. The 9 rounded aperture blades allow for pleasing bokeh as you stop down, although the starbursts are slightly below average for a prime lens. I compared the bokeh of the XF30mmF2.8 with the new XF56mmF1.2 from a medium distance with the background reasonably close to the subject (see below). There is still a decent amount of pop with the XF30mmF2.8 from medium-distance and gets even better as you get closer to your subject.
In conclusion, the new XF30mmF2.8 R LM WR Macro is a fantastic addition to the Fujifilm X Mount lens line-up. It’s Fujifilm’s second 1:1 macro lens but I wouldn’t buy this lens if you’re looking for a dedicated macro lens. The 1” working distance at 1:1 is almost unusable (the lens casts a shadow over the subject), but it’s still great to have a close-focusing lens just in case you need it. If you’re looking for a reasonably light and compact lens to attach to your favourite X Series body, consider the XF30mm as your everyday lens that can double as a macro lens in a pinch. I think food and product photographers (watches, jewellery, coins, etc.) would love to have a ‘normal’ field-of-view lens at all times without carrying a dedicated macro lens. I used the 30mm lens mostly as a street photography lens on the new X-T5 and it was fantastic. The weather-sealed build quality is solid, the autofocus is quick and quiet, the image sharpness, contrast and colour rendition is great, and it’s easy to carry around. At $599 USD retail, it’s a reasonable price for a 1:1 macro lens that doubles as a standard lens. If you don’t need a lens with macro focus capabilities, I recommend the XF27mmF2.8 and if you want a fast but light standard lens, I recommend the XF35mmF2. However, if you want to shoot with a unique focal length that can focus to under 1” to the front of the lens, the XF30mmF2.8 R LM WR is the lens for you.